Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Breathtaking Double Standards

[Originally posted at "Down With Absolutes" on October 28, 2008]

It probably won’t do to complain about left wing bias in the media, as it will likely be perceived as so much right-wing whining. I do get amused, however, when the left whines about talk radio. It gets even more hilarious when a left wing Democrat, while debating a right wing Republican on Fox News bitterly complains that FOX News is not fair and balanced, Somehow, they miss the irony.

I thought the press had reached a new low four years ago during the run-up to the 2004 election, when CBS News desperately tried to prove that George Bush was being less than truthful about his service in the Texas Air National Guard. They came up with an old document purportedly written by Bush’s commander, Jerry B. Killian (who was conveniently dead and unable to comment), indicating that Bush was either AWOL or had served less than honorably, or something to that effect. They deliberately ignored evidence to the contrary, including protestations from Killian’s surviving family members who recalled him as having nothing but the highest praise and admiration for the young Bush, as well as a number of Killian’s friends and associates who doubted the authenticity of the documents. The other major thing they ignored was that the slightest forensic analysis of the document would establish it as an obvious forgery, something that CBS either (1) knew full well and went ahead with the story anyway, or (2) perhaps in their zeal to deep six Bush’s political career, didn’t bother checking. In the end, an independent panel clearly exposed the shoddy and deceptive journalism that led to the bogus story, four CBS employees were ousted, and Dan Rather was allowed to go softly into that good night.

I wonder what would have happened if the victim of that story had been on the left side of the political spectrum. I would venture to guess that many more heads would have rolled at CBS, and much sooner. Perhaps there would have been congressional hearings, criminal investigations and people doing jail time for forging documents. I also find it curious that back then, matters about people’s past conduct and associations were apparently considered fair game, a matter of legitimate discourse in the vetting of a politician. Of course, they are only fair game when we are talking about politicians on the right side of the political spectrum. Imagine, if you would, the following fictitious scenarios, and consider in each case whether or not the media would cover the story and consider it important enough to engage in aggressive investigative journalism. Or would they consider it a matter of little importance, a mere “distraction” from the real issues that should be the focus of the political campaign?

  • Imagine a mega-church in the heart of Texas that is home to a wealthy, predominantly white congregation. The pastor’s sermons, which are all recorded, spew out no small amounts of bigoted, hateful vitriol. What would happen if sources revealed that John McCain had attended this church for over 20 years. In fact, more than being a regular attender, McCain was actually very good friends with the pastor. Their relationship went way back, as the pastor had officiated at McCain’s wedding and even baptized his children. McCain considers the pastor his friend and mentor and even says as much. Do you think that the press would ignore this? And if they were forced to finally treat this as a story and asked McCain about it, what if McCain first insisted that he had never heard the pastor engage in such vitriol in the 20 years he attended? What if after being confronted again, he finally conceded something to the effect of, “Yes, he has said some outrageous things, but I can no more disown him than I can disown my own people.”? Do you think the press would let him off the hook and treat this as a non-issue?
  • Imagine an abortion clinic bomber who is obviously guilty of having torched a number of clinics, maiming some innocent bystanders, killing others. Everyone knows that both the bomber and his wife are guilty of these acts of domestic terrorism. The wife goes to jail, but he gets off on a technicality. Years later, they both go on to lead normal lives, channeling their ideology into social causes instead of violence. But when asked about their prior activities, they are both unrepentant of their former acts. They actually state that they are proud of what they did, and wish they had done more. It turns out that during these latter years, John McCain had a number of social relationships with this couple. They served together on community projects, on various boards, etc. In fact, John McCain launched his political career from this guy’s house. Do you think the press would ignore this? Do you think that they wouldn’t question his judgment?
  • Imagine a right wing activist group called the National Unity Team of Millionaire Entrepreneur Groups (NUTMEG). The group had a history of pressuring banks to make high risk loans in support of speculative business ventures, most of which failed, the cumulative effect of which caused the banks to bleed red ink, which caused a domino effect on Wall Street, leading to an economic meltdown. What if it were also revealed that NUTMEG, in addition to their activities on the economic front, was also engaging in voter registration drives resulting in numerous instances of people registering to vote multiple times, registration of the dead, registration of the Dallas Cowboy’s starting lineup in the state of Nevada, etc. etc. What if NUTMEGs activities in this regard led to multiple independent voter fraud investigations in several states? Now imagine how the press would behave if it turned out that John McCain had a history with NUTMEG, had represented them as an attorney, had provided training to some of their organizers, and had his campaign donate close to a million dollars to one of NUTMEG’s front groups in support of get-out-the-vote activities.

I will admit that Barack Obama’s alleged associations with the Rev. Jeremiah Wright. Bill Ayers and ACORN are not the primary issues we should be focusing on. I have plenty of other good reasons to determine that I don’t want him to be my next president, first and foremost among them is that I disagree with him on just about every major policy issue. Even if I did agree with him, I am troubled by his utter lack of experience or any real accomplishments that he can point to, having spent less than four years as a U.S. Senator without a single piece of legislation or any other legislative accomplishment to his name. But given this lack of a resume, all we have to go on is his flowery rhetoric, or we could possibly take a look at his history and associations before he burst onto the national scene. But, no, we can’t do that. These are mere distractions that take our focus away from the real issues. Yeah, right.

No comments: